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The Dog Ate My Retainer!: What to Do When Your Retainer is Broken or Lost

What to do if you've lost your retainer
Orthoyl May 23, 2023

It sounds like a bad homework excuse: the dog ate my retainer. But it’s a surprisingly common scenario: your teenager can’t find their retainer. They remember putting it down somewhere, on a nightstand, in the bathroom, or maybe on the kitchen table. But there’s no sign of it, until a bit of broken colored plastic and twisted wire on the floor provides the first clue. Somehow, the family dog got hold of it and chewed it to pieces.

Believe it or not, this isn’t that unusual. We’re not sure why dogs are attracted to retainers—it might be the smell of the material, the scent of saliva, or maybe the feel of chewing on them—but we’ve heard more than one story of retainers falling victim to a canine’s instincts. Unfortunately, while retainers are strong enough to keep your teeth in alignment after orthodontic treatment, they’re not strong enough to withstand the force of a dog chewing on them.

If your retainer gets broken or lost, it’s essential to get replacements as soon as possible. Wearing your retainers as prescribed by your orthodontist is the best way to preserve the results you’ve worked so hard for. Without them, your teeth can shift back into a misaligned position, and then the investment you’ve made in braces or clear aligners is gone.

The best strategy, of course, is to take care of your retainers so your dog never has an opportunity to try them on for size. But accidents happen, and if one happens to you, we can help.

Best Practices with Retainers (And Why They Get Lost or Broken)

To help your retainers last as long as possible, you should follow one simple rule: if retainers aren’t in your mouth, they’re in their case. Getting in the habit of putting your retainers where they belong, and only where they belong, when you aren’t actively using them will prevent almost all of the common reasons we see for retainers getting broken or getting lost.

For example, a retainer that is simply stuck in a pocket, without its protective case, may not be in danger of getting lost, but it can easily get broken. And a retainer should never be wrapped in a napkin or a tissue. While it may seem like that’s a good idea to keep it clean while it is out of your mouth, it also makes the retainer look like a piece of trash, which is how so many end up getting discarded with school lunches. Doing something unusual with your retainer, or doing something different every time you take it out, just raises the risk that you’ll forget where you put it or it will end up somewhere unsafe.

The best idea is not only to put your retainer in its case immediately when it comes out of your mouth, but to have a designed spot where your case is kept. This might mean a certain pocket in a backpack, for kids who need to wear their retainers during the day and will be taking them out at lunchtime. Or it could be a specific shelf in the bathroom (out of the dog’s reach!) at home if you’re just wearing retainers at night. Develop a routine that works for you and stick to it.

Leo ate a retainer recently and a new one had to be purchased at Orthoyl Yorba Linda.
True Story: This is Leo. A beautiful Cavapoo in Anaheim Hills, happened to have chewed up our patient’s retainer. We got one replaced within days at our office in Yorba Linda.

Getting a Replacement

Of course, even if you’re being careful, your retainer may still break, get lost, or stop fitting properly. Whenever this is the case, and whatever the reason, you should contact your orthodontist immediately to get a replacement. The longer you go without wearing your retainers, the more likely it is that your teeth will shift.

At B Orthodontics, we want you to enjoy the same bright, even smile you achieved through active orthodontic treatment for years to come. If you’re having trouble with your retainers, please contact us right away. We have the in-office technology to produce new retainers for our patients as quickly as the next day, so you can quickly get back to your routine. To learn more about how we can get and keep your smile looking beautiful, contact us here today.

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